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SA Post Office maintains it's ready to take over social grants payment system

The Post Office’s Mark Barnes says they have offered their services before and are happy to do so now.

A screengrab of new CEO of the South African Post Office, Mark Barnes. Picture: BDTV.

JOHANNESBURG – The South African Post Office (Sapo) maintains it is able to take over the social grant payment system from Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and will make itself available to government over the next 12 months.

The Constitutional Court has delivered stringent orders for both the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, saying independent experts will also monitor their progress to ensure grants are distributed in the future.

The court has extended the current contract with CPS and Sassa for one year, as the current contract expires at the end of March and adequate plans were not put in place to ensure a new distributor could take over.

The Post Office’s Mark Barnes says they have offered their services before and are happy to do so now.

“So we stand ready now. We’ve done lots of work on the technology solution, on what can be done in Post Bank in terms of account opening and issuing of cards and all that sort of stuff. We make ourselves available to the government to utilise our infrastructure if that’s what they require.”

DLAMINI TO COMPLY

Dlamini said she will comply with the Constitutional Court’s orders, saying she apologises for the stress she caused to millions of social grant beneficiaries.

The 17 million social grant beneficiaries are completely dependent on the money they receive from Sassa and now they can breathe a sigh of relief.

The court has taken an unsympathetic view of Sassa and Dlamini’s conduct over the social grant payment crisis.

While Dlamini has apologised unreservedly to the beneficiaries, the court has ordered her to explain her conduct by the end of this month.

Justice Johan Froneman explained: “The minister is called upon to show cause on affidavit why she should not be joint in her personal capacity and she should not pay costs of the application from her own pocket.”

Sassa and CPS have been ordered to report back to the court every three months on the progress made on finding a new company to distribute social grants.

SOCIAL GRANTS BENEFICIARIES RELIEVED

Social grant beneficiaries are relieved knowing they will be paid on 1 April, with some acknowledging the consequences would have been devastating had the Constitutional Court not stepped in.

NGO Black Sash brought the application to the highest court in the land because the Sassa and Dlamini failed to ensure plans were in place for continued payouts next month.

One of the women who were at court on Friday for judgment, say this matter has caused them an enormous amount of stress.

“My concern was the stress level that most members of the community suffered. For instance, my son depends on the R360 for his school transport.”

Another beneficiary added: “They are going to monitor it after every three months, so this is the best solution.”

Although the current CPS contract was declared invalid, the court has suspended its invalidity for a year or until another entity can take over the payment process.

Minister Dlamini’s conduct has been questioned by the court and she’ll have to explain what went wrong by the end of March.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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